Madeleine Klebanoff-O’Brien, drawings of Dante’s cosmos

 

Harvard University undergraduate, Madeleine Klebanoff-O’Brien, ’22, “whose research focused on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, concluded her fellowship by creating a fully image-based research product. She illustrated Dante’s entire cosmos with visual details pulled from Houghton sources, including depictions of Earth’s elements inspired by medieval astronomical texts and drawings of angels based on 14th-century woodcuts. To explain the map’s symbolic elements to an average viewer, Klebanoff-O’Brien also made an image-based commentary…”    –Anna Burgess

See full article with many images, Anna Burgess, The Harvard Gazette, September 23, 2020

Franz von Bayros’ Illustration of Inferno 14

XOT361807 Illustration from Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, Inferno, Canto XIV. 28, 1921 (w/c on paper) by Bayros, Franz von (Choisy Le Conin) (1866-1924); Private Collection; German, out of copyright

Selections from Graba”s 2003 Divina Commedia

Selection from Divina Commedia – Inferno by Graba’

Selection from Divina Commedia – Purgatorio by Graba’

Selection from Divina Commedia – Paradiso by Graba’

View Graba”s full gallery here.

Tom Phillips’ Illustrated Inferno (1983)

In 1983, English artist Tom Phillips translated and illustrated his own version of Dante’s Inferno.

Phillips intended that his illustrations should give a visual commentary to Dante’s texts. As he writes in his notebook, ‘The range of imagery matches Dante in breath encompassing everything from Greek mythology to the Berlin Wall, from scriptural reference to a scene in an abattoir, and from alchemical signs to lavatory graffiti.’ And the range of modes of expression is similarly wide, including as it does, early calligraphy, collage, golden section drawings, maps, dragons, doctored photographs, references to other past artworks and specially programmed computer generated graphics.

“‘I have tried in this present version of Dante’s Inferno which I have translated and illustrated to make the book a container for the energy usually expended on large scale paintings… The artist thus tries to reveal the artist in the poet and the poet helps to uncover/release the poet in the artist.’”   —Notes on Dante’s Inferno, Tom Phillips’ website

Phillips also co-directed A TV Dante with Peter Greenaway in 1986.

Read more about Tom Phillips here.

 

Rauschenberg’s Dante in the Time of Pandemic

robert-rauschenberg-modern-inferno

“Dante’s three-part epic poem portrays the journey souls take after death. Essentially a socio-economic commentary on Florentine life, with strong moral undertones and focus on the human condition, its themes can be adapted to any time. Today, in the face of Covid-19, the 700-year-old Commedia resonates strongly. Now is a perfect time to reflect on the work through its visual depictions. Although countless artists have illustrated the work since its medieval publication – Sandro Botticelli, Gustave Doré, and John Flaxman, to name a few – modern artists have shown how its relevance lives on to this day. Perhaps the most progressive modern rendering of Dante’s epic to date is seen through the work of artist Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008).

“Dante is ambiguous in his writing on the Sodomites, reflecting the reticence surrounding the subject of homosexuality in his day. Rauschenberg mirrors this ambiguity in his illustration with an empty speech bubble beneath a red outline of his own traced foot. The tracing inserts Rauschenberg into the narrative just as Dante the Poet occasionally appears in the text, separate from Dante the Pilgrim, a personal touch that is seldom seen in Commedia illustrations.” [. . .]    —Flora Igoe, The Art Story Blog, 2020

See Rauschenberg’s full Inferno series here.

 

Illustration by Denis Forkas (2015)

“Study for Hypocrites (illustration for Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri/Inferno, Canto 23), after Francisco Goya after John Flaxman,” 2015

“We found, down there, a people painted bright.
Their tread, as round they went, was very slow,
weeping, worn down and seemingly defeated.”[. . .]   —
Study for Hypocrites, denisforkas.com, 2015

(trans. R. Kirkpatrick)

Matt Kish’s Inferno Illustrations (2020)

matt-kish-illustration-301-rom-73-fallen-angelsmatt-kish-illustration-028-attack-wrathful-attacking

“I have always been fascinated by the crude and vulgar spectacle of Inferno. Perhaps some of what follows is more personal than validated by scholarship, but despite his clear devotion to Christianity and deep and abiding belief in dogma, Dante seems to relish in his bizarre portrayal of the torments of Hell. I think I remember the poem was originally written in low, or street, Italian rather than formal language, because Dante wanted the tone to match the content and for the work to be something everyone could read. My experience growing up with comic books in particular was that they too were a kind of low, vulgar entertainment. Designed to titillate and provoke, but in no way were they deemed serious or valid art. There was a sort of dirty appeal to the comics I saw on the shelf in the grocery store, especially the pulpy black and white horror comic magazines like Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. For my approach to Inferno, I wanted to borrow heavily from this lurid, brightly colored, sickly appealing visual style as well as the connotations of what comics seemed to be to my young mind. So this is mirrored in my painting style, which is very bright and graphic and employs linework over tone and value (essentially, I paint like one should draw, I don’t paint like one should paint) as well as in my collaging bits of text and image from comics into the illustrations.”    —Matt Kish (personal email communication, September 28, 2020)

You can check out the full series and Kish’s other works on his website.

“Dante’s Inferno” in Shadowrun

“The club is styled after the allegory of the nine circles of hell as described in the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, having nine dance floors with each floor going further down with each corresponding circle of hell. They also have a digital host with which offline members and online members can react with the aid of AR. The club’s digital menu is for simsense users and deliberately designed as a scroll, and the digital lounge is designed to simulate the feeling of live flames.”    —Shadowrun Wiki, February 2, 2015

Learn more about the Shadowrun series, first launched in 1989, here.

“An Architect’s Vision of Dante’s Hell”

“Based in Campinas, Brazil, Paulo de Tarso Coutinho is a professional architect with a passion for Dante who created the following videos to visually represent the spatial issues in play in the Dantean conception of hell. Drawing on the early modern reception of the Commedia, including Antonio Manetti (1423-1497) and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Coutinho incisively reads Dante’s infernal journey in architectural terms and shows how the form of the spiral is a necessary solution for the way that the space of hell is narrated in the poem. In similar fashion, his video of Sandro Botticelli’s (1445-1510) illustration of hell puts an emphasis on the concrete, creating a cross-section of the globe to put this infernal model in real space and highlighting Botticelli’s idiosyncratic use of staircases to think through the mechanics of Dante’s descent. Coutinho’s work is an important way of showing the degree to which Dante’s poetry was infused by the real, martialing mathematical and scientific currents to narrate a space that would inspire the sort of reception by later artists and thinkers who sought to map it in precise geographical and spatiotemporal terms. As Coutinho shows, that process continues still.”   –Akash Kumar, Digital Dante, 2018

Check out the Digital Dante site to view the videos.

Cesare

From Volume 2, Chapter 10, in Fuyumi Soryo’s 2005 manga series Cesare, which makes extensive reference to the Divine Comedy.

Learn more about Cesare here.